With snow starting to accumulate on the mountains across America and Canada and a number of ski resorts opening in under a month, now is the time to polish your avalanche awareness skills.
Too often, even experienced skiers and snowboarders head into the backcountry with minimal safety kit and little or no time spent on refreshing the skills that could mean the difference between life and death.
If you’re heading into the backcountry, knowledge of the avalanche risk assessment (from 1-5), dangerous slopes and warnings – published online or usually posted at the local ski resort base station is important information to have before heading out.
The best way to hone your avalanche awareness skills is to first learn from experienced professionals, and practice, practice, practice.
If there’s no snow in or close to your home town, then one alternative would be to practice transceiver searches in a nearby park. Get your ski buddies to hide a transceiver – making sure you have the unit switched on and in transmit mode! Then switch your unit to receive, and see how long it takes you to find one.
Time is of the essence! 3 minutes or less would be ideal, the faster you can find someone and dig them out, the greater their chances of survival.
For more information, check out the American Avalanche Institute‘s courses, videos, advice and blog online.
Below are 4 pieces of equipment that could significantly improve your or someone else’s chances of survival in the event of an avalanche, but these pieces of gear are nothing if you don’t know how to use them. One important point to note is you should ALWAYS consider a transceiver/beacon, probe and shovel as a complete set and EVERYONE in you party should have the trio as a matter of course.